The economic cost of cancer reached $1.2 trillion in 2010, according to the World Health Organization. Despite the investment in treatment and prevention, 8.8 million people died of cancer in 2015. That number is projected to increase to 14.6 million in 2035.
Projected number of people who will die of cancer in 2035 (WHO)
2 in 5
People will get cancer in their lifetime (ACS)
Economic cost of cancer globally (WHO)
What is it?
Cancer immunotherapy is a radical new treatment with the potential to generate long-lasting regressions for all types and stages of cancer.
Immunotherapy harnesses the body’s own powerful immune system and mobilizes its highly refined disease-fighting arsenal to eliminate cancer cells.
The immune system produces specialized disease-fighting cells that circulate throughout the body, continually seeking out and destroying “foreign” agents. Cancer cells elude detection from the immune system because of their similarities to healthy tissues. Cancer immunotherapies override cancer’s evasive strategies to ensure that a powerful, precise and adaptable immune attack is focused on tumors anywhere in the body.
Why is it Different?
Immunotherapy has many advantages over previous types of cancer treatments.
Immune cells “remember” cancer cells to keep them from coming back
As tumors evolve, the immune system adapts in tandem
Immunotherapy can kill cancer cells without harming healthy tissue
The immune system can target and attack tumors anywhere in the body
Immunotherapy can complement and build on the efficacy of other cancer therapies
Immunotherapy has the potential to be effective for virtually all forms of cancer
The key difference that separates immunotherapy is its durability. While traditional therapies may extend lives, the responses are often not durable – which means that the disease can progress or recur, often very quickly. Immunotherapies, on the other hand, can be curative and durable. Patients with sufficient anti-cancer immunity can achieve long-lasting control over their disease.
Unlocking the promise of immunotherapy will be complex.
Currently there are more than a thousand clinical trials exploring immunotherapy for cancer treatment, with hundreds of research centers and companies vying for answers. To dramatically accelerate cancer research breakthroughs and hasten the delivery of better treatments to patients, the Parker Institute is leading a smart, coordinated approach with the finest academic and industry partners.